11. The differences between a Barrister and a Solicitor

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by JudgeDredd, Oct 14, 2008.

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  1. I have heard all the lawyer jokes, and even publish them on my company website, so you don’t need to post any here for my benefit! Personally speaking, I think some of the lawyer jokes are fair comment, and some of them are a bit unfair. Like anything in life, there are always good ‘uns and bad ‘uns. I don’t think it would be right or fair to tar them all with the same brush.

    My Victor Meldrew moment aside, the main types of formal legal advisers that I can think of are:

    1. Solicitors
    2. Barristers
    3. Legal Executives
    4. Licensed Conveyancers

    There are other informal types of names used that I think mainly consist of:
    5. Legal Consultants
    6. Lawyers
    7. Advocates
    8. Attorneys

    The differences between them are huge to say the least. The first 4 are legally qualified to some degree and the last 4 are not qualified at all. Looking at each in turn:

    Solicitors – a Solicitor is someone who has undertaken 6 years of legal study to become legally qualified to give the public legal advice. They are the ONLY group out of the above that have the legal right to use the word Solicitor and anyone else using that word, is committing a criminal offence. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. These are the people who have offices, who you mainly turn up to get the legal advice from when you need it, but just to confuse you a bit, Solicitors can also go to court and very often do. A Solicitor will wear a gown in court but not a wig

    Barristers – a Barrister, sometimes referred to as Counsel, is someone who has undertaken 5 years of legal study (technically in fact only 4), to become qualified to represent you in court. They are the ONLY group who can call themselves barristers but beware; some people do call themselves counsel and are not committing an offence. Barristers are regulated by the Bar Council. These are the people who have chambers, who a Solicitor may use to represent you in court because he is unable or unwilling to do so. Just to confuse you a bit more, some barristers now have direct access to the public and can in certain circumstances represent you without you instructing a Solicitor first. A Barrister will wear a gown and a wig in court.

    Legal Executives – a legal executive is a person who has undertaken several years of legal study, more usually whilst still doing on the job training. Only legal executives can use the letters Ilex or Filex after their name meaning Member or Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives. A Fellow is more experienced. These advisers are regulated by the Institute of Legal Executives. These are the people who more often than not work for a firm of Solicitors. Previously they only used to have support roles but over time, they have been known to acquire senior positions within a law firm. Legal executives do not have the right to appear on your behalf in court, but just to confuse you a bit more, they can appear on your behalf in the county court on your behalf in certain circumstances (essentially when then hearing is not in open court). Legal Executives would not therefore wear a wig nor a gown.

    Licensed Conveyancers – these are specifically trained individuals who after a period of study mainly only on the issues of land law can act on your behalf in buying or selling your home or other property on your behalf. Only Licensed Conveyancers can call themselves that. As far as I am aware, a licensed conveyancer cannot under any circumstances advise you on any other area of law apart from buying and selling property. They are regulated by the Institute of Licensed Conveyancers. They more often than not work within a firm of Solicitors but they do from time to time open up their own offices to deal with only the buying and selling or property. They do not have the right to appear in court for you and so they would not wear a wig or a gown.

    By implication, the others: Legal Consultants, Lawyers, Advocates and Attorneys are not qualified in England to give you legal advice. That does not mean they cannot do it, it just means that they are not regulated and that they have no formal qualifications in England that allows them to act on your behalf. I have seen a few good ones around, but I have also seen a lot of bad ones around too. You pay your money, you take your chances!
    They do not have any right to appear in court on your behalf and they would not wear a wig or a gown. If you intend to ask them to act on your behalf, they must make it clear to you that they are NOT a Solicitor. It is not enough for them to simply say that they are a legal consultant etc and hope that you THINK they are a fully qualified Solicitor etc. and as I said before, if they say they are a Solicitor, they commit a criminal offence.

    I hope that had clarified the position a bit. Unfortunately there are others who dispense the law, such as immigration advisers, will writers etc. I have not been able to mention them in detail here. To compound matters, the government believes that the public do not have enough choice (and therefore competition) in the market and they are looking to open up the market more to providing legal services. So, in future, you will need to be even more careful about who you instruct to act on your behalf and specifically ask them their qualifications and expertise.

    I am not sure that is a good thing. How can you ask a doctor if they are a doctor and more importantly whether they are good at their job......maybe I am just biased, but I do see an awful lot of people confused and ripped off by people who they thought were Solicitors but in the end, were nothing of the sort.
  2. 12. The differences between a Robber and a Thief.
  3. A German client once told me he had never understood the difference between a barister and a solicitor until he went to court where he discovered "one does all the work and one does all the talking"
  4. A robber uses violence or the threat of it, to take your possessions. A thieft takes them, often when you're not looking.

  5. rockpile:
    My bold above :wink:
  6. An excellent broad stroke explaination. Some detail of a practical nature for the more criminally inclined:
    1. Police station accredited representatives.
    These are the only people who can represent you in a custody suite. They can be qualified solicitors or even barristers (usually moonlighting or non-practicing. Getting down and dirty is usually somewhat beneath m'learned friends). They have taken a 3 stage practical and academic course in wrestling with cops and not sleeping for days at a time.
    So you cant get your sister's mate who does dry re-insurance shipping law to gob off to the police and try to bail you out....as such a girl in Notting Hill nick found to her cost last august.
    2. Solicitor Advocates
    These titans of justice bestride the legal domain like collossi. Out of 128,000 mealy mouthed 'solicitors' only 4,000 have the stones to take the 2 stage advocacy course and to go head to head against the bourgoise-deviancy of barristers with their pompus egos and pompadoured wigs. They have spent longer studying/training than barristers and yet can carry cases from police cell to European court. All without a minor public school education nor a perverse desire to live like its 1354.

    God..has a hard on for solictor advocates. The best of both worlds. And we dont need no stinking wigs...SA. Though we do have to wear poncy collars.
  7. To quote a London taxi driver:

    "What do you do for a living, mate?"

    "I'm a lawyer."

    "That means you're a solicitor, dunnit? If you were a barrister, you would have said 'I'm a barrister'."

    Oh well, you'd have had to be there.
  8. So, what about NPs (WS in Scotland)? Are they just a subset of Solicitor?
  9. 13. Judge

    A Judge gives advice downward to all the above. They should be addressed as 'Your Honour', or 'My Lord', dependent upon the absence of purple on their robes. Useful cliches when making argument to one are such as, "Well, I'm no judge but ....", or "He was as drunk as a judge". "Don't you mean a lord?". "Yes, m'lud"

    Judges were barristers who got bored, went through some Harry Potteresque time-warp and emerged dressed as 17th-century wizards, with similar diction. Judges have the least freedom of action, operating within the dictats of policy at all times.

    It is not clever to introduce a diminutive one as guest of honour at a formal dinner as "One of those small things, sent to try us".

    I've never met one who couldn't drink me under the table.
  10. LOL......that is so true !!
  11. Try telling US Immigration that you're a solicitor...
  12. Judge Oswald, sitting at Knightsbridge Crown Court many years ago with a 70 year old handler of stolen goods who had spent almost a lifetime in prison.

    ' I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment'

    Defence brief, " But your honour, my client is 70 years old, he might not live that long".


    'In that case, advise your client to do as much as he can'
  13. Another one about him was a man charged with unlawful wounding,

    Ossie, " I sentence you to a term of imprisonment for a period of 18 months"

    The crim, " I'll do that standing on my fxxking head".

    Ossie, " You will now serve an additional 18 months for contempt, I hope it gets you back on your feet"
  14. I'm sure you're wrong, my girlfriend told me she had to go to court for some soliciting but she hasn't even been to university.
  15. I bet she makes more money than me too !!